The campaign committees of at least 12 Republican senators statewide, including four from Long Island, pay to lease or purchase automobiles for the legislators while the senators collect state mileage reimbursement under a legally murky practice.
This nexus of campaign-paid vehicles and taxpayer-paid travel reimbursements for trips to and from Albany for legislative work has prompted an investigation within Nassau County by the acting district attorney and drawn criticism from good-government groups and a state corruption commission.
The practice appears largely confined to the State Senate’s Republican majority. State records didn’t show similar spending by Senate Democrats, and Assembly members aren’t allowed to collect reimbursement for vehicles funded by their campaigns.
Flanagan hits taxpayers up for $584 a month .
Albany Project puts it into persepctive for us:
Your campaign buys or leases a car for you. As we learned yesterday’s analysis Carl Heastie’s super shady campaign spending, you can have the campaign pay for all maintenance on that vehicle. Then you can bill taxpayers $.56 per mile for driving it.
Not bad if you're looking to stick it to taxpayers.
Flanagan doesn't seem to be doing anything specifically illegal here but it certainly feels less than ethical.
To be fair, as the NY Times report showed on Heastie, the Assembly Speaker isn't any different when it comes to taking every financial advantage he can.
Given that the US attorney took out Shelly Silver and Dean Skelos this legislative session, you'd think these guys would try to play on the up-and-up - especially so for Flanagan since the last five senate majority leaders have ended up under criminal indictment.
But it seems the more things change in Albany, the more they really don't change.